Friday, December 7, 2012

How To Sell A Car, Yard Sale, Etc.

I live just off a major state highway under the guise of a boulevard in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California. For some reason, people think that its OK to park their cars on the streets with for sale signs on them. Some of the cities have passed ordinances stopping this but so far, the county nor my city,  hasn't gotten around this eyesore that can also be dangerous as people slow down to look on a highway that is busier than most freeways I've been on in other states.

I walked past this example for several days now and thought, as a "design" item, this sign was the perfect example of what not to do.

You see the same thing with yard sales, another example of terrible signage. A marks-a-lot may look big when you are making the sign at the kitchen table but tacked up on a telephone pole about all you can see driving past, if you can see anything, is the sheet of paper.

You can bet that one of these days, at least in California, those signs will be illegal because people slow down to look at them and could get hit from behind causing accidents. As you can see in the photo at left the street is packed and remains so all day and well into the evening. It can take up to 5 minutes just to turn right from my street onto the highway.

The other part of this sign thats bad, besides a phone number a driver will not be able to read (I blurred it to protect the guilty) because a single line of a marks-a-lot is impossible to read, is price. A dollar sign? Its free? If you're going to risk parking your car on one of the busiest streets in the entire San Gabriel Valley, or anywhere else for that matter, you better at least let them know what the price is. In fact, a GOOD sign would have that information in LARGE, BOLD NUMBERS so there is no doubt to the passing driver what you want for your car! You can bet if they like the car and really like the price they will pull over and write down the phone number. That is salemenship.

The same goes with those Yard Sales signs. Its nice to have an arrow and address but again, the arrow and address need to be BOLD. The letters and numbers need to be almost too much when handheld but legible tacked up on a pole. Use a large sheet of  colored paper too. Theres a reason most signage created by the city, county and state uses a background color. That makes it stand out from the rest of the signs around them. If necessary put two or four sheets together. That way, when you post your sign, IT WILL BE LEGIBLE.

Design is very much a part of our culture. Good signs get you to where you want to go, poor signage, like that found in much of Los Angeles, does not. I read once where some wag, protesting about how useless the freeway signs in Los Angeles were noted, "Signs in Los Angeles are designed to tell those who know where they are going that they are almost there." No greater truth has ever been spoken.

Be brave with your signs - BIG, BOLD LETTERS and colorful paper - then watch how that improves your chances of getting people to where you are trying to sell something.

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